Greenpeace gets heated over decision to protect exports and keep farming out of ETS

Greenpeace  has  got its  knickers  in a  twist  over the government’s decision   not to include  agriculture  within  the emissions trading scheme  as part of   reforms   which the government  says  will  help  improve the  operation of  the  scheme.

But  Greenpeace registers  “disbelief”   that what it calls  the country’s biggest polluter  is  still being excluded from the  scheme.

Point of Order,  noting the  increasing   stridency  of Greenpeace lobbying  on  climate change, believes it  reflects the organisation’s dismay  that the  Green  Party  is  not  doing its  job  (as Greenpeace  sees it) on  climate  change.

Almost  certainly  Winston Peters, as  leader of NZ  First,  put the   kibosh on  bringing  agriculture into the ETS. He  knows it would  not only  choke  the country’s leading export industries   but   kill  off  any support  NZ First  has tried to  win by  portraying itself  as  the “saviour”  of  failing provincial  economies.

Greenpeace says agriculture emits 49% of NZ’s emissions  which have risen 12% since 1990.

“An emissions trading scheme without agriculture is a waste of time and will not be able to combat climate breakdown – the greatest threat human civilisation has ever faced.

In its discussion document on the ETS changes, the Government says it is waiting for the Climate Commission to determine whether and how agriculture enters into the scheme.

Greenpeace argues there is no time to waste.

NZ must urgently and substantially reduce emissions from the agriculture sector. Putting agriculture into the ETS is a no-brainer. We don’t have time to wait for the Climate Commission to get on with it. 

“If we’ve got any chance at keeping this planet liveable for humanity, then the government has to take serious action against industrial livestock farming, starting now. Agriculture must be fully brought into the ETS, synthetic nitrogen fertiliser must be banned, cow numbers must be reduced, and there must be a massive government-led investment in regenerative farming. Anything less consigns future generations to hell on earth,”.

In August the Labour-led coalition proposed a range of amendments aimed at improving the price signals provided by the emissions trading scheme and simplifying its processes for foresters.

Among the key recommendations was the introduction of auctions, the ending of the current $25 a tonne cap and a proposal to phase down the allocation of free credits to trade-exposed industrial processors by 1 to 3 per cent annually.

This week  the government  confirmed  the  adoption of auctions for the emissions trading scheme will leave in place the $25 fixed-price option for next year.

Acting Climate Change Minister Julie Anne Genter said the move to auctions will help put a cap on the number of emission units available over time. Annual announcements, looking forward five years, will help provide certainty for scheme participants.

A cost-containment reserve, to operate as part of the auction scheme, will replace the current $25 price ceiling, or fixed-price option, once it is ready.

“The fixed price option for surrenders due in 2019 will continue to remain at $25 in order to maintain regulatory predictability. “We want the ETS reforms to be well-managed and well-signalled and this means keeping the FPO in place while those reforms go through.”

Spot NZ units last traded at $25.85. April 2019 contracts were at $26.25, rising to $29 for the April 2022 contract.

Forestry-specific measures include plans to integrate credits from permanent forests more explicitly in the ETS, to recognise the carbon stored in solid wood products and to simplify the accounting treatment of credits.

The introduction of auctions was part of a strategy to provide greater certainty of pricing by controlling the volume of units available and keeping prices consistent with those in other international markets.

Forestry  Minister  Shane Jones said the addition of permanent forests to the ETS will provide more incentives for landowners to integrate trees into their landscapes, and enable them to diversify their income while also providing long-term environmental benefits.

We’re making good on our promise to encourage more forestry and make better use of land, especially on erosion-prone land.By establishing a permanent forest, with indigenous or exotic species, landowners will be able to better optimise their non-productive agricultural land and enjoy income from the sale of NZ units, while also increasing biodiversity and reducing erosion.”


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